Watch CBS News

Woman Left In Wheelchair After Flight At O'Hare Canceled

UPDATE: On Tuesday, three days after CBS Chicago first reported on this story, American Airlines released a timeline of events, based on its own investigation. The airline said a review of security camera footage shows relatives arrived to pick up Olimpia Warsaw about 45 minutes after she was dropped off by a porter at an upper level waiting area. They located Warsaw about 30 minutes after they arrived. An airline spokeswoman said the airline would not release the security video "at this time."


Chicago (CBS) -- Olimpia Warsaw flew into Chicago to attend a relative's funeral. The 67-year-old made it to O'Hare, but family member Julian Coltea can't say the same for her luggage.

"She had to miss the first part of his funeral because she had to get clothes," Coltea said.

Warsaw has Parkinson's and diabetes and has trouble walking.

Claude Coltea said Friday after his father's funeral, his mom was set to return to Detroit. He would catch his flight shortly after.

"I walked with her all the way to her gate," he said. "I confirmed with the gate agent that the flight was on time. Everything was ok. She said, 'Yup, all's fine. We'll take good care of your mom'."

But, it turns out, Warsaw's flight was canceled.

Her son Claude said the airline assigned a porter to take her back to the front at which point they offered her a hotel room. However, they weren't willing to take her to the hotel, and she couldn't find her own transportation because she has trouble communicating.

The porter explained his shift was over and that he didn't know how he could help the woman anymore. So, he left her.

"She actually had to find a random passenger to help her out just to go to the bathroom because the porters had already left for the night," Julian Coltea said.

When Warsaw didn't arrive in Detroit, family began calling American Airlines.

They said in addition to losing her bags on the way in, the airline had lost track of her on the way out.

Eventually, security helped family find her hours after. Images shortly after she was discovered show her still in a wheelchair, dressed for her ex-husband's funeral.

Claude Coltea said his mother was let down by both the airline and the porter.

"All we wanted was someone to pause and say 'you know what, can we just make sure this human being is safe and then we can all go home," Coltea said. "Not one person did that."

Julian Coltea agrees.

"I really think they need to revisit their policies for dealing with the elderly, for dealing with the disabled," Julian Coltea said.

In response to CBS 2's story, American Airlines apologized to the family. The airline said they've launched an investigation into the porter involved, who is not an airline employee. While still exhausted by the process, the family seemed more content after speaking with a representative.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.